[p2p-research] Fwd: request: best readings on P2P energy?

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Tue Nov 3 14:57:12 CET 2009

Here are two links to online books to start with, not P2P directly, but 
about renewables and how people would switch to them if there was a level 
playing field and full accounting for externalities:

"Brittle Power" (from the 1980s but just as relevant as ever)
"Brittle Power: Energy Strategy for National Security is a 1982 book by 
Amory B. Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins, prepared originally as a Pentagon 
study, and re-released in 2001 following the September 11 attacks. The book 
argues that domestic energy infrastructure is very vulnerable to disruption, 
by accident or malice, often even more so than imported oil. According to 
the authors, a resilient energy system is feasible, costs less, works 
better, is favoured in the market, but is rejected by U.S. policy.[1] In the 
preface to the 2001 edition, Lovins explains that these themes are still 
very current. [2]"

And Lester Brown's work:
   "Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization"
"Over the last few decades, the world has accumulated a growing number of 
unresolved problems, including those just mentioned. As the stresses from 
these unresolved problems accumulate, weaker governments are beginning to 
break down, leading to what are now commonly referred to as failing states. 
Failing states are an early sign of a failing civilization. The countries at 
the top of the lengthening list of failing states are not particularly 
surprising. They include, for example, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Chad, 
Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Haiti. And the list 
grows longer each year, raising a disturbing question: How many failing 
states will it take before civilization itself fails? No one knows the 
answer, but it is a question we must ask. 12"

I've read the first (years ago in grad school, it is the basis for a lot of 
my thinking on sustainability and security) but I've only glanced at a few 
parts of the second.

I'd suggest anyone who wants to be an expert in this area read both, and 
then think about how P2P fits into the issues outlined.

Energy policy and security issues go hand in hand in our society.

In general, I'd suggest keeping in mind the issues of:
* intrinsic (resilient) security vs. extrinsic (brittle) security
(The above two books.)
* Morton Deutsch's mutual security vs. unilateral security
(Example here:
http://www.beyondintractability.org/audio/morton_deutsch/?nid=2430 )

And I like Julian Simon's work on the human imagination as the ultimate 
resource, even if there are parts one might disagree with:
"[p2p-research] Beyond Julian Simon; a meta failure of free markets as labor 
value declines"

Essentially, the more healthy people who are free to act, and have some 
resources including access to tools and information, the more solutions 
people come up with to make the world a healthier and more secure place.

So, one can look at this energy issue in terms of peer-to-peer security. 
Don't let those people building ironic high-tech weapons take all the 
"security" high ground. Those weapons are ironic because the same technology 
going into extrinsic unilateral security through building nuclear missiles 
and military robots could be used to build a sustainable and intrinsically 
mutually secure future for us all. And the same time spent turning people 
into soldiers in schools and the military could be producing free citizens 
who have time for producing really secure infrastructure instead. But our 
society is stuck in a 1800s Prussian model of national security that has 
already lead to two global wars.

The same people have produced the doctrine of "Mutually Assured Destruction" 
and related weapons to keep all of us "secure". :-(

Freeman Dyson talks in "Weapons and Hope" how nuclear weapons are a moral 
evil, like slavery:

That may be true, but as a strategy for change, it has not worked.

Economically, spending so much money on such weapons systems is also 
"stupid". The entire USA is currently terrorized by the thought of just one 
nuclear bomb going off in the country. So obviously deterrence can work with 
a handful of nuclear missiles, not tens of thousands of missile. Each extra 
weapon beyond a handful just wastes money and poses a hazard to US citizens 
including soldiers, in terms of accident and pollution. Example of an 
accident that could have wiped out a big chunk of the USA a couple years ago:
"Westa assumed command of Minot in October 2007, replacing his predecessor 
after a B-52 bomber was unintentionally loaded with six nuclear-armed cruise 
missiles that were then flown to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana (see 
GSN, Oct. 24, 2007)."

But, because war is a racket, no one wants to know that we don't need all 
that stuff to be "secure enough":

So, besides appealing to conscience, appealing to intelligence (military 
and economic) has not worked, either. :-(

So, I'm saying, besides being immoral, and stupid, current policies are 
*ironic*. :-)

"There are three things which are real:
God, human folly, and laughter.
The first two are beyond our comprehension.
So we must do what we can with the third." (John F. Kennedy)

Maybe humor will succeed where conscience and intelligence has failed. :-)

Or, maybe all three together will do the job. :-)

So, I'd suggest read the above, and then starting thinking about how it is 
all really funny in an ironic way, our current situation. Kind of like a 
whole village of people dying of thirst, fighting over one last canteen of 
water, using firefighter-style water cannons taking water by an expensively 
maintained pipeline from a nearby freshwater lake. That's the current state 
of our world, IMHO. :-) Or rather: :-( See also:
"No contest: the case against competition"

Our current energy situation includes national security issues in relation 
to oil. We power US aircraft carriers and submarines guarding the oil-filled 
Persian Gulf with nuclear reactors (not that I'm a big nuclear fan). We 
power our land based nuclear missile silos (to attack the USSR if they move 
in to take the oil) by solar panels. All totally ironic. :-( And then we are 
building advanced military robots that can be controlled across the globe 
through a global communications network to fight over wealth and assassinate 
individuals and otherwise blow up children in Pakistan, instead of using the 
robots to build wealth and help take care of children, or use the 
communications network to build peace and shared understandings. Again, 
completely ironic. :-(

As a comedian (Brett Leake) suggested to me last year at a humor conference:
* state the problem -- we currently have limited resources;
* restate the problem in an ironic way -- we are spending vast amounts of 
time and money and resources to build a military apparatus and bureaucracy 
(DRM, RIAA, patent fights) to enforce ways of rationing scarce resources;
* draw out the irony -- if we put as much energy into solving our resource 
problems as in preparing to fight over them, we would not have any major 
resource problems. :-)

Examples of people choosing a different route:
   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanosolar (solar)
   http://www.hyperionpowergeneration.com (nuclear)

Related irony: it takes more electricity to refine a gallon of gasoline than 
it would take to make an electric car go the same distance. If we switched 
to using electric cars, we would use less electricity. Now, isn't that 
ironic? :-) But a certain few people would have less centralized control 
over our lives and get less rent, so we don't do that.

So, I'd suggest, a healthy amount of irony might help in the analysis. :-)

See also, from 1979, just before the USA and the world took a wrong turn 
that has lasted thirty years going down the wrong road:
   "Primary Sources: The "Crisis of Confidence" Speech by Jimmy Carter"
We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One 
is a path I've warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation 
and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right 
to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of 
constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. 
It is a certain route to failure.
   All the traditions of our past, all the lessons of our heritage, all the 
promises of our future point to another path, the path of common purpose and 
the restoration of American values. That path leads to true freedom for our 
nation and ourselves. We can take the first steps down that path as we begin 
to solve our energy problem.
   Energy will be the immediate test of our ability to unite this nation, 
and it can also be the standard around which we rally. On the battlefield of 
energy we can win for our nation a new confidence, and we can seize control 
again of our common destiny.

Again, some irony:
"America will always do the right thing, but only after exhausting all other 

Other primary resources for peer production of energy can be found here:
Or many other places. I just like that magazine as they've been plugging 
away for a long time. :-)

--Paul Fernhout

Michel Bauwens wrote:
> thanks for a brain dump on this!
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Daniel Araya <daniel at levelsixmedia.com>
> Date: Tue, Nov 3, 2009 at 3:25 AM
> Subject: P2P energy
> To: michelsub2004 at gmail.com
> Michel, I'm writing a chapter on P2P energy and I'm wondering what you'd
> recommend as the best readings...

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